Wind Walker [Commonweath Pre-History: The Downfall]
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by Michelle Levigne
Category: Science Fiction/Romance
Description: Refugees from the Downfall Wars, separated by centuries of spaceflight, clash on a far distant world. Caught between them are Tayree--native, Wind Walker, visionary, and a recent widow--and Arin, a foundling raised by the invading Colonists. Tayree's visions send her to find Arin, stolen from her tribe when he was an infant. She knows him from childhood dreams ... and because his twin brother murdered her husband and infant sons in an attempt to possess her. Arin and Tayree could be part of prophecy, to bring peace between the Ayanlak natives and the invading Colonists, but only if their hearts can heal. Tayree has a chance to fill her empty arms, but claiming her rights of recompense from her enemy's family could destroy the future for her tribe and Arin's love for her. This book, previously published elsewhere, has been re-released with a new start and fresh edits. We hope you enjoy the new, improved version.
eBook Publisher: Writers Exchange E-Publishing,
eBookwise Release Date: June 2008
15 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [390 KB]
Reading time: 252-353 min.
Alarm bells clanged, bringing her to her feet and halfway to the nursery door while she strained to pick up the pattern that indicated the location of the emergency. Tayree flung the door open, letting the sound carry better to her, though she could feel the reverberations through the stone under her feet and vibrating through the walls. They were big bells, their tone deep and penetrating. Even before the sequence finished, she knew where disaster had struck the High Reaches--the central community area, where the healer hall, guest lodgings, council hall and supply storage caves were located.
Tayree leaped across the passageway to her supply room when the triple note pattern asking for healers followed the location sequence. She snatched up her healer's bag before the four rapid notes indicating fire pierced the dying reverberations of the larger bells. She looked back once as she picked up her cloak and swung it around her shoulders. The Chaiqua met her gaze and settled down in the doorway of the nursery. Her sons could have no more vigilant protector if she and Jerel both stayed in the cave to watch over them.
Her duty called her elsewhere. Tayree said a silent prayer of thanks to Omnistos that she could depend on the Chaiqua to guard her sons, that she did not have to spend precious time wrapping the babies against the cold and carrying them to another home to ask someone else to watch them. She ran out of the cave, pausing only long enough to latch the door her great-grandfather had fashioned, sturdy and resistant to the strongest winter winds. In moments, she had darted along the ledge that looked out over a sheer drop three leagues deep, and through the gap in the rock face that took her deeper into the mountain passageways.
Twenty steps took her into the crevice that had been widened to form a main thoroughfare for the community of the High Reaches, and a strong gust of evening wind brought her the first whiff of smoke from the fire. Tayree flinched when she caught the sweet tang of scorched grain mixed in with the wood smoke from casks and crates, and the sour, burned flesh smell of leather wrapped with flames. The worst of the winter storms had not come yet, and most of the supplies to see the community through the winter were still in the central stores, not yet dispersed to the homes and families of the Sentinels. If they could not get more supplies from their leaders in the Canyon, the Sentinels would face a hungry winter.
Fury propelled Tayree's feet faster down the winding trails through the rock, until she burst out into the common area. The fire seemed to be more black smoke than flame, and she prayed it was already under control. She saw no other Wind Walkers, no signs of her brothers, and knew she was the first healer to reach the site of the disaster. Figures emerged from the smoke, two men dragging a third with them, putting him down on his back on the thick carpet of moss that filled the common area. Tayree slung her healer's bag off her shoulder as she ran the short distance, and went down on her knees over the first victim before she recognized the face.
Danton was a friend of Juras and Joktan, his hair so pale gold it looked white in strong sunlight. His hair and face and clothes were smudged with smoke. Tayree welcomed the fury that rose up in her chest when she saw the dark red of dried blood that turned the back of his head into a crusty mass of hair and dirt. The fury warmed her and steadied her hands as she bent to her work.
Two others needed her help, both suffering from inhaling smoke as they fought the flames. Tayree was grateful to send them home with packets of herbs to put in boiling water, to breathe the fumes and clear their lungs. Danton was the only one injured, and he was awake and swearing before she finished cleaning and sewing his wound. His pupils dilated normally and he said he felt no dizziness, and that was a good sign. Tayree gladly gave him over to her older brothers' care, and they dragged him home to his wife, teasing him about being asleep on duty.
"He wasn't," Talon said, joining her once the trio were safely on their way. He squatted next to Tayree, helping her clean up the detritus of bloody cloth and dirty wash water. "It would take someone of superior skill to sneak up on Danton. Why would anyone want to set fire to our supplies? Anyone who hates the Sentinels that much ... well, if Koh'hani raiders went to so much trouble to burn our winter supplies, they would have done more damage than just batter Danton's head in and set the fire."
"I heard Aarman sending his team out to check all the watch posts and see who isn't on duty," Tayree said. "You're right. There's something odd about this picture." She shivered, and nodded thanks when her brother flung her cloak around her shoulders.
"Are you all right?" He handed the bucket to someone else to dump out the dirty water, and helped her stand.
Tayree laughed breathlessly and pressed a hand against her breast. It ached from the growing pressure of milk. That was a surer sign of time's passage than the last few streaks of bloody sunset still trickling across the sky in the far distance. Talon nodded, offering a crooked grin of understanding. He hooked his arm through hers and hurried her out of the common area, heading for home. Through their twin-bond, they shared their impressions of the fire and what they had heard other people say while they worked together on Danton and the other two victims.
All thoughts and even her breath fled when Tayree walked up the wide ledge and approached the door of their cave home. The door hung open. A dark shape in the doorway resolved into the Chaiqua, when she drew a few steps closer. A few more steps revealed the arrows bristling all over the beast's body, and puddles of blood lying in congealing pools.